“to take the form of the comic book, which has become an embarrassment, and raise it to a more ambitious and meaningful level.”
- Eddie Campbell
Transmetropolitan comes to mind, very good. Sandman is a must-read, indeed. You also might want to try out Alan Moore, Watchmen of course, but most of his work is brilliant. Try to get a hold of his 2000as stuff. On a sidenot; V for Vendetta rocks.
When we are naming Classics; Spiegelmans ‘MAUS’ is on the list as is his ‘in the shadow of no towers’. Of course The Spirit (”best of the Spirit” is a good start) is on the Classics list and don’t forget to read some of Eisners later work (try “Elders of Zion”).
For an overview of your Marvel-lore, I’d recommend “Marvels” by Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek. With that completed you have nailed down most of the classics (you said you already read Sin City).
Moving on to an ongoing series. I’m hooked on Kabuki (should be with the classics actually), Fables and DMZ at the moment.
DMZ by Brian Wood was mentioned before already. If you want to ‘try him out’ before heading into DMZ I can really recommend “Local” and “Demo”.
As we are in the Vertigo line already I’d like to point out Preacher (come to think of it, that should go on the classics list) and Hellblazer (the movie sucks, Constantine is blond, British and he smokes, still does. ). The first 30 issues or so of ‘100 bullets’ are good too, as is the also mentioned ‘Y the last man’, although I never really got into that.
On Image Comics you can find a lot of different interesting titles; Image publishes in a slightly different way then Marvel and DC, long story. In any case you want to check out ‘the Maxx’ (also try to get the cartoon that the Maxx had on Mtv). ‘the Pro’ and ‘Wanted’ (the movie again sucks)
Witchblade and the Darkness are not really my taste, but I give them big props for craftsmanship. Remember that a lot of comics are published for 15-year olds, although a lot of fans probably disagree with me, I think these two titles fall in that category. I also feel that ‘Spawn’ and most of the X-men franchise belong in the 15-year old category. Don’t get me wrong here, I love them! pick a couple of them up somewhere and read them. But you don’t see me collecting them any time soon.
On the DC wildstorm line I can recommend an oldie called “sleeper” and of course Warren Ellis’ Desolation Jones (will they ever follow up on that? ). There is also a series called ‘Ex Machina’ ( I think it’s on Virtigo, not sure) which is worth a try and ‘American Virgin’ is pretty good (I love Becky Cloonan)…
Well that about sums it up…
No, just kidding, I could go on like this forever…